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Alberta weddings and events hit by latest COVID-19 restrictions

Aileen Bishop and her fiancé Maurice Leier are getting married in Grande Prairie on Sunday, and on top of the traditional wedding eve anxiety, Bishop is worried about COVID-19.

“I’ve been quite nervous about that. I really don’t want to be that bride that causes a spreader event. I don’t want to be that person that impacts people negatively,” Bishop said.

The couple has changed their wedding because of the pandemic, downsizing from 50 guests to 14 and taking numerous safety precautions as health guidance changed.

“If Plan A doesn’t work, what’s Plan B? What’s Plan C? And I think, at this point, you kind of have to be prepared for anything,” Bishop said.

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With couples trying to ensure their weddings fall into step with the latest round of restrictions, vendors have to be on their toes.

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“It is difficult, and I think that we just have been doing our best to just roll with the punches,” said John Takla, owner of Talent Productions in Edmonton.

His company is providing DJ services for dozens of weddings — a handful this weekend alone.

Every time the rules change, he has to adapt his business.

“As soon as the mask mandate was implemented in Edmonton, we definitely noticed a slowdown in sales and inquiries coming through,” Takla said.

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Now, the mask mandate is provincewide, and so is a change to liquor laws, with alcohol service being cut off at 10 p.m.

“It definitely does kind of put a little bit of a damper on the fun party life of an event. But I feel like we needed to do something,” Takla said, referencing the province’s escalating COVID-19 case count.

He said he’s hopeful the restrictions on drinks won’t prevent people from dancing.

“I do feel like people will still try to make the best of their day, and people will maybe start to get started dancing maybe a little bit earlier to accommodate for the fact that alcohol would be shut down earlier.”

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But the 10 p.m. end to alcohol service will certainly impact bartenders, like Tina Balding. She owns BrewSisters Mobile Bartending in Edmonton and has nearly a dozen weddings slated for the next two months.

“Half of these weddings are probably going to be cancelled just because of these restrictions. It’s a giant hole in our income,” she said.

Balding said typically, she is hired to serve between 5 p.m. and 1 a.m. This will be a huge adjustment.

“A giant kind of knife to the gut because in say, like an eight-hour shift, we’re now doing four hours.”

She’s concerned the restrictions may make things more dangerous.

“They’re going to leave the establishment that has been cleaned and has the protocols and the social distancing, all the things in place that’s considered a safe environment. They’re going to leave that venue and gather at someone’s house,” Balding said.

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But not all events are as impacted by the latest restrictions.

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“The majority of businesses that we’re working with are so much more comfortable with a virtual event. And so actually, for the remainder of 2021, the only events that we’re working on are virtual or hybrid,” explained Hannah Chorneyko, founder of Connected Events.

She said the mask mandate is an easy sell, too.

“Events that I’ve been at and events that we’ve been planning, we do see people more comfortable in masks, especially when they’re with a group of people that they’re not familiar with.”

But for now, Chorneyko will continue to work on virtual events, where she notes the technology is much improved.

“Some of the platforms we’re using now are amazing, and you really can replicate the look and feel of in-person events.”

She recommends people planning any sort of event have a backup plan in place and know whether they’ll postpone or cancel if restrictions require it.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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